The Holy Grail Treatment That Has Made My Sore Muscles Disappear
While I’ve had quite the run of working out from home (thanks to Obé Fitness and a well-stocked cabinet of workout gear), since I got back in the gym, my workouts have been a complete step above. I’m lifting heavier, going longer, needing fewer breaks—to say I’m thriving would be an understatement. But what comes with harder, more intense workouts? Feeling sore AF. I won’t complain that my body feels sore from my workouts because we all know that bittersweet feeling that we actually accomplished something when we wake up with shaky legs after a day of heavy squats or a long run. But when you get really sore, it can make even the simplest of tasks (like sitting on the toilet) feel like the most laborious chore.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, massaging your body with a gua sha tool is probably the highest on the list, and it’s the only method I’ve found useful for both relieving and preventing soreness.
Gua sha is the act of scraping at the skin to promote circulation. “Gua means ‘scrape’ and Sha means ‘petechiae’ (tiny, flat red or purple spots) in Chinese,” said Dr. Ervina Wu, PhD, LAc, co-founder of YINA. “It’s commonly used in Chinese medicine to scrape the skin (mostly on the upper back) to invigorate blood flow, release heat-toxins, stimulate lymphatic drainage, activate various points of the body, and stimulate an immune response bringing helpful cells to the area.” If you haven’t tried it yourself (likely with a jade or rose quartz stone on your face), you’ve probably seen it on TikTok labeled as a natural way to sculpt and massage your face. It’s been used in ancient Chinese civilizations for centuries to bring out redness and treat ailments all over the body, using sharper objects like coins or scrapers. In Western culture, we’ve seen jade and rose quartz-shaped stones to lightly massage the face, moving around lymphatic drainage and sculpting the face.
However, most of us are forgetting that one of the best ways to utilize our gua sha tools is on the body. I’ve added body gua sha to my nightly routine for the last two months. Here’s how I use it, what I use, and the Equilibria CBD products that have totally changed my gua sha routine.
Dr. Ervina Wu, PhD, LAc
DOCTOR OF TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE, FOUNDER OF YINA
Dr. Ervina Wu is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and registered TCM Dermatologist and the founder of YINA, a beauty and wellness brand by two AAPI founders and doctors.
Using Gua Sha With CBD
When I want to really help my sore muscles, I pair a gua sha body massage with Equilibria’s CBD products, specifically the Relief Balm and Daily Treatment Oil. To get the gua sha moving around the skin, you always have to apply some kind of slippery product so you’re not tugging at your skin, and opting for CBD doubles the sore muscle-fighting powers. The Relief Cream is already my favorite product from Equilibria for relieving menstrual cramp pain and treating migraines, but it quite possibly works its best when used for sore muscles. It massages very deeply into your skin, and you can almost immediately feel it making a difference. When I use it with a gua sha stone, it glides beautifully. The stone itself is great for massaging the skin and relieving some of that soreness, but the Relief Balm actually feels like it’s taking away the soreness rather than just treating it.
When I don’t use the Relief Cream, I’ll use the Daily Treatment Oil. Since my soreness is pretty prevalent right now, I’m trying to use my gua sha every other night before bed in my nighttime routine, and for the sheer sake of saving every last drop of my Relief Balm, I turn to this oil for everyday treatment. It’s a lot lighter obviously, so it goes a long way. A tiny bit of this covers practically my entire body. It’s definitely not as strong as the Relief Balm, but for an everyday massage, it still makes a bigger difference than using a regular body oil. The added benefit of this oil is that it makes my skin feel so soft and supple after I use it. I haven’t even been using my usual body lotions since I added this to my routine.
Shop My Favorite Gua Sha Tools
This is the body gua sha I’ve been using, and it’s a game-changer. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to invest in a bigger gua sha to use on your body if you already have a stone you love for your face. But I love the rippled edge on this and also love that it’s a little bit bigger than a gua sha stone you’d use on your face so you can cover a lot more surface area in one swipe. Plus, it was developed by doctors of Chinese medicine and the brand’s founders are AAPI, and when buying a product that is so focused on a practice in Chinese culture, it’s important to support them.
For a less expensive alternative that you can use to really get into your muscles (especially your legs and calves for runners), this stainless steel tool will be your best friend.
Benefits of Body Gua Sha
I’ve seen so many benefits since I added this practice to my nighttime routine. “Gua Sha is especially effective at relieving muscular tension and breaking down fascia adhesions, [making it] perfect for those with tight muscles, sluggish circulation, and tech necks,” Dr. Wu said. Here’s what I’ve experienced so far:
Because I do my body gua sha at night, I feel so relaxed that I fall asleep easier. But what I really love is how much deeper, longer, and more comfortably I sleep after using gua sha. Because I’ve relieved some of the tension in my muscles, I’m not tossing and turning all night trying to find a comfortable way to sleep.
Thanks to my nighttime oil from Equilibria, my skin feels softer and smoother. It’s a reminder to use a moisturizing oil before bed, when I otherwise would scroll on my phone and avoid spending some extra time on myself, and my skin is thanking me for it.
Less Soreness Over Time
Using gua sha on my sore muscles has actually made me get less sore over time. Because the gua sha increases circulation to those areas, they heal faster and are more prepared to recover on their own after a workout.
The gua sha massage breaks up tension because you’re massaging out those muscles and moving that lymphatic drainage around your body. When I use it on sore muscles, I notice an immediate difference: Those muscles feel energized and recovered. Dr. Wu also suggested trying gua sha on your legs and ankles for long flights to reduce swelling or keeping it at your desk to relieve shoulder tension, text thumbs, and achy keyboard hands.
More Relaxed Nighttime Routine
Rather than feeling the scaries or anxiety before starting my night routine, I feel relaxed and excited to get into my gua sha massage.
If you’re pregnant or menstruating, you should avoid using gua sha on your abdomen. If you tend to bruise or are on blood thinners, Dr. Wu recommended using lighter pressure. Also, you should avoid broken skin, wounds, scrapes, and any sensitive areas.
How Often Should You Gua Sha?
You can gua sha anywhere from daily to once or twice a week. When I first started, I was only doing it as needed when my muscles felt a little sore, but I’ve started doing it just about every night before bed and have noticed the most results that way.
How to Gua Sha on Your Body
You can gua sha your entire body or just the areas you’re feeling sore and tight. Here’s my routine:
- Apply Relief Cream or Treatment Oil to my skin. I do this section by section so the oils don’t absorb into the skin before I can make it to that area. I don’t rub this in too much—just enough to get it spread out.
- Start at the top of your body and go down the rest from there. You can even gua sha your scalp like you’re combing your hair to feel extra relaxed. Follow this by doing your neck, chest, arms, abdomen, legs, and feet. Don’t forget the soles of your feet, ankles, and palms of the hands. According to Dr. Wu, you should move to another area once it starts to turn pink or warm.
- Start with minimal pressure, and tailor your experience using all sides of the gua sha. When I want something more intense, I’ll use one of the sharp edges. When I want a larger surface area, I use the longest edge. My gua sha has a rippled edge as well, which I like to use on bigger muscle areas, like the tops of my arms, the shins, hamstrings, and top of the back.
- Do anywhere from 10-20 swipes for each section. This is pretty intuitive, so I focus on where I need the massage most and what feels most effective for me.
- Finish the massage by running your hands over each area, rubbing in any excess oil or balm.
If you experience any redness from your gua sha, that’s normal! Especially if you use a firmer pressure, gua sha can bring up lots of redness and inflammation in the body, but it should go away in a few hours.
This post is sponsored by Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.